November 28, 2012

Soup to Nuts: Gifts for special foodies

Here are seven that have earned the official Meredith Seal of Approval.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

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A Pie of the Month Club gift allows the recipient to choose a dozen pies through the year at Two Fat Cats bakery in Portland.

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The Honey Exchange in Portland offers a delicious variety of honeys and honey-related gifts, from bee-themed jewelry to mead from around the world.

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I've purchased coffees from this line before, including some Kona Star Estate from the Big Island of Hawaii that I parceled out to myself slowly to make it last, and a Panamanian coffee I bought for my sister-in-law for her birthday in August. My favorite by far has been the Guatemalan that's part of the current line. Maybe my palate just prefers Guatemalan. One of Coffee By Design's Guatemalan coffees is my favorite for daily drinking, and once, years ago, a friend of mine who went on a reporting trip to Guatemala brought me back some coffee beans she bought straight from a local farmer. It was some of the best coffee I've ever had.

This Harvest Reserve Guatemalan is so good I would recommend that you be sure to drink it black to get the full flavor.

Yes, I know, coffee experts don't like it when you do things like add cream and sugar to coffee, but I confess I usually use a little cream. Not much, just enough to lighten the coffee. It's a hard habit to break. Well, this coffee helped open my eyes as to why the coffee experts are right. I tried it with cream as well as black, just to test the difference, and will never put cream in it again.

I learned one of the reasons it's so good is it's made by a man named Arturo Aguirre, who is supposedly "the rock star of coffee" in Guatemala. Each label contains so much information about where and how the coffee was grown, you might feel like you've wandered into an episode of "Portlandia." The Guatemalan label informed me, for example, that the coffee beans came from 18-year-old trees grown in loam at 5,800 to 6,000 feet above sea level. They spent 48 to 60 hours in a wet tank and 25 hours drying in the sun. Just the kind of info the coffee geek on your list will love.

This may sound silly, but half the fun of buying this coffee is just opening the jar. It's vaccuum sealed, and when you twist the top it makes a satisfying little "whoosh" noise before inundating your senses with the most intoxicating aroma.


$230 a year for a dozen 9-inch pies or $48 a year for 12 mini pies

I wrote about this new Pie of the Month club a few weeks ago on our food blog, but it bears repeating: Who doesn't love pie?

Give the gift of a monthly pie from Two Fat Cats bakery in Portland, and the recipient can start collecting in January. Doesn't matter if they want blueberry, coconut cream or apple, all they have to do is come to the bakery on India Street once a month, choose from the pies that are available, and have their card for that month punched.

They can try a different pie every month, or eat 12 apple pies. It's up to them.

There are two categories. You can buy a year's worth of 9-inch pies for $230, or pay $48 for a year's worth of 3.5-inch mini pies – a great gift for a senior or single person who loves pie but can't eat a whole one.


Terrien, $37; Chateau Musar, $43 to $50

I'm no wine expert by any means, but throughout the year there are wines I try that just really get my attention. Here are two interesting wines I've tried that I think the wine lovers on your list might like, too.

I first tried Chateau Musar Blanc 2004, a wine from Lebanon, at a dinner with friends at Carmen at the Danforth, and we liked it so much it was the topic of much dinner table conversation that night. Of course, our first reaction was "They make wine in Lebanon?" Yes, they have for thousands of years, apparently. Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 in the Beqaa Valley.

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For cheese lovers, consider a gift of Cabot’s award-winning Clothbound Cheddar. It is sharp, rich and buttery, with notes of caramel.

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Ice cider is a not-too-sweet dessert wine that’s been developed over the past decade or so in Quebec. Eden Ice Cider is made in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

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Spicy Blueberry Steak Sauce & Marinade is made by Pemberton's Gourmet in Gray.

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Coffee by Design’s Harvest Reserve line is pricey, selling for $40 a pound, but you’ll know you’re giving the best.


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